The heat is letting up a bit, and it is easier to breath. The day we arrived in New York City the mercury was up at around 100 degrees with an equal degree of humidity. Kaia had a hard time sleeping, probably due to the heat, jet lag, and the fact that she hasn’t been in her own room for almost a month. The first night we all laid in bed while she cried, moaned, and whimpered her way through the night. Last night, she slept all the way through, well almost. We sponged her down, changed her diaper, and gave her some water to get her back to sleep at around two thirty.
Being back in New York as a dad is proving to be a very strange phenomenon for me. I remember New York in many ways, but few of my memories involve timing my day to be on the train in order for Kaia to make her afternoon nap. I remember simply exploring the city usually with my iPod, a pack of smokes, and a toke of something to make the leaves crisp, but now I no longer smoke anything, and I need to be find places where my family and I can stroll and explore that don’t involve long stretches of suspect neighborhoods, too much sun, and long train rides that may result in a baby breakdown.
I am curious to see how my time here will affect my attitude of NYC. Gone are the leisurely meals at nice restaurants, nights at the movies, or shows. No longer will I stay out till four a.m. with friends getting drunk at some hipster bar in the East Village. NYC without a stop at the Cherry Tavern doesn’t seem to make sense. New York has always been associated with bars, restaurants, and swerving through the streets on foot or in cabs in some altered state. I have been here for three or four nights now, but I haven’t even ventured outside after seven, because that is when Kaia goes to sleep.
Regardless, of how things go, I will try and update my readers on the things I am learning while here in NYC as a dad who has given up drinking, partying, and staying up all night. Here are a few of my initial observations:
I am staying in Park Slope, Brooklyn at a friend’s house, and while at first I was a bit taken a back at the feel of the neighborhood, it is growing on me. Living in KL, I didn’t realize how sterile, clean, and artificial my surroundings were. I spent most of my time at pristine shopping malls, at a school built smack dab in the middle of one of the most expensive, synthetic areas of the city, so walking the streets of Brooklyn feels differently than it did three years ago when I lived here.
It’s funny how habit and predictability shape how we interact with the world. In Malaysia everything was so clean and easy, that I forgot how much I actually enjoy the grit and character of New York. The first morning after we arrived, we walked down the street for some bagels and coffee, but I was made nervous walking down the street with Kaia, because of some homeless guys sleeping in the park, but today we had an amazing stroll all the way down to Flatbush Avenue. We talked to a few people who commented on how pretty she was, and we enjoyed looking up and down all the side streets. I realized that the neighborhood where I am staying is amazing, in that it offers just enough of the trendy bars, restaurants, and boutiques that people look for in New York, but it is still authentically Brooklyn. I am not sure what that means, but it has something to do with old men sitting on the sidewalk waving to whoever is walking slow enough to notice them.
New York is a city for explorers. Like most cities, it begs you to stroll the streets and alleys ways looking for places to spend your time. While the last time I was here, that usually meant crawling into some dark bar to drink sake till three in the morning, this time it will have to mean something entirely different. We are off to the petting zoo in Prospect Park later today. I am pretty sure that with an open mind and the ability to find something worthwhile in everything that we do that will prove to be just as exciting. Although it is cliché, I firmly believe in the idea that life is the journey and not the destination is entirely true, so with no place to be and nothing to do for a month in New York, I cannot wait to see what we find.
Oh and by the way, a thunderstorm cleared away the humidty and the city is sparkling today.